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The king of good times

Rahul Sharad Dravid’s entry and exit in to the sport of cricket bears a stark resemblance to his career course- expended in the shadow of other cricketing greats.

At the start of his cricketing journey, it was the dashing ‘Prince of Kolkata’ who managed to hog the limelight as the subjugated Bangalore boy watched his counterpart and future skipper score a ton on his debut. The 95 scored by Dravid somehow was not enough to grab the attention of the cricketing Pundits, as the entire print and publishing media went gaga over Ganguly’s feat of a maiden hundred on the revered soil of Lords. Later on, it was the poster boy of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar- the man who voiced the sound of a billion Indians who inadvertently ripped the classy right hander of the much deserved adulation for over a decade.

The man met a similar fate when he announced his retirement from the sport, it has been around 2 weeks since his exit, and the ungrateful nation has already interred his credentials. Tendulkar’s super-ton dominates the thought process of the fans, rides the heart of the lunatics, and claims the pen of the leading scribes. And dare I say the oblivion’s curse will be unleashed on the stylish right hander in nigh future much to the disrespect of the gentleman who brought much more than just technical brilliance and wisdom to the cricketing table.

I must profess to the fact that I just like the many millions around me have spent my childhood being awestruck by the sheer batting brilliance of Tendulkar, but at the same time I must admit that off the cricket field my life is more touched by Dravid’s idiosyncrasies, the manner in which he goes about his life and sport is a perfect example for everyone around him. Even if you don’t play or watch the sport, the man will win you over by his conduct, that is his greatness. Sometimes I wonder whether the morals and ethics which were deeply ingrained in Dravid will ever be able to make their way into the play field again, more so in a different Avatar.

The new breed is no doubt more talented and gifted, but at the same time the basic theme for which cricket stands and how it is perceived by the remaining of the world- A gentleman’s game- is jeopardized by it. Coming up to field with broken fractured fingers, donning the keeping gloves when you’d called it quits long time back during a first class game, moving up the order to see the new ball off as an opener when you are the best number 3 batsman in the world, all these anecdotes will be lost in the sands of time and will only resurface in the post Dravid era when cricket historians will be approached to check the veracity of the stories left behind by the man who ensured that he would be the Samwise to the Frodos around him. The man who made certain that the when everyone else around him was lured by the power of the ring; he was there to keep the wavering quest stable.

But there was one domain, which remained his fiefdom until he decided to hang up his boots-The Foreign Soil. I have never seen Sunil Gavaskar play, but all that I have managed to accumulate on my journey as an avid fan of the sport tells me that Dravid is a notch higher on overseas pitches. The only fact that we Indians were able to shift our prime objective from saving matches (The Gavaskar era) to winning them could be attributed to efforts of Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Tendulkar.

The scenes of the double hundred in Adelaide sealing off an Indian win could never be washed away from the memory of an Indian fan. That was the only time I remember watching an animated Dravid, the otherwise peaceful and calm man could not keep his emotions at the bay when he gifted us with that special moment. Despite all this, I hope that he does not end up as the man responsible for India’s early exit from the 2007 World Cup or as the man who declared when God was batting on 194 in Multan in the history books. Mark Antony rightly pointed out addressing the mob post Caesar’s death, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” The memory of an Indian fan is short termed and he can turn into a beast from an ardent worshipper in a matter of minutes.

Drawing the curtains to his career, his charisma and persona can be gauged from the fact that he chose for a quiet walk to the pavilion for the very last time in his life when he could have easily had a capacity house standing on its feet bidding him a deserving and well-earned farewell. The man who has held on to each and every opportunity that has come along his way, it’s only apt he finishes off his career with the highest number of catches.

Thanks for the memories Super Dravid. It hurts to say it out, but the sport will never be the same in your absence. I’ve uttered this before but I will say this again, I never thought a man could make me cry but your departure did leave me in tears.

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